Now our extension is nearly finished and the patio is being installed, it’s time to think about buying some new patio furniture – but boy is it expensive! Why is this?
The relative price of patio furniture is impacted by global economic events that influence supply chains, the cost of raw materials such as oil and steel, and manufacturing issues such as labor and shipping costs. Recently these have been heavily influenced by the COVID pandemic and the Ukraine war.
Let’s dive down into the subject of why patio furniture is expensive in more detail, and discover the many and varied factors that impact its price…
Why is Outdoor Furniture More Expensive Than Indoor?
Outdoor furniture is more expensive than indoor furniture because of the heavy use it receives.
It’s a fact. Patio furniture gets way more bashing about than indoor furniture. Outside, there’s rain and freezing temperatures. Patio furniture can be baked by UV rays, blasted by sand and then blown across the patio.
Outdoor cushions have to be tougher, too. Outdoor cushions suffer more stains than indoor ones: wine, beer, BBQ sauce and dog slobber all have to clean up nicely. We consumers expect outdoor cushions to hold their shape, stay soft and colorful – for years.
We want patio furniture that’s sturdy and durable, but stylish enough that we can use it indoors too, if we want.
To accomplish all that, outdoor furniture manufacturers have settled on a short list of materials that will work: plastic, metal, wood and concrete. They’ve also settled on a limited list of cushion fabrics and stuffing material that won’t mold, is soft and will hold its color.
For all these reasons, outdoor furniture has always been more expensive than indoor furniture. But when COVID came, outdoor furniture manufacturers were hit harder than indoor ones. Outdoor furniture manufacturers were more vulnerable because they had a short, inflexible list of materials and suppliers.
When crazy high demand for their furniture hit, their short list of materials became stuck in the supply chain. Materials costs rose, along with energy costs and shipping costs. Outdoor furniture manufacturers experienced super high demand while suffering seriously low supply.
Thanks to the pandemic, outdoor furniture costs are at record highs.
This is a fascinating documentary by the Wall Street Journal showing the amazing journey a USB charger takes from Vietnam to Stratford, Connecticut, and all the ways the supply chain can break in between. Onshoring, anyone?
Why is Plastic Patio Furniture So Expensive?
First, there was COVID. Then, there were labor shortages because folks were locked down. Factories furloughed workers, then slowed down or shut down.
Then, to the surprise of home goods manufacturers and big box stores, consumers started spending money on their homes. Lots and lots of money.
The demand for renovation materials and home goods – including outdoor furniture – by consumers went sky high. Even restaurants wanted outdoor furniture.
Plastic products like patio furniture and packing materials (Amazon, anyone?) were in high demand. Then, in the summer of 2020, hurricane Laura shut down some strategic petrochemical plants on the Gulf Coast.
The supply chain, thanks to COVID lockdowns, broke in small ways and big ways. Finally – the icing on the cake – Russia invaded Ukraine and the price of oil shot up over $100 a barrel.
Plastics touch our lives in many ways. Cell phones, car parts, wind turbines, face masks, wipes, medical instruments, carpet fibers, our children’s bike helmets, airbags, insulation, computers and patio furniture all have plastic in them.
When the price of oil goes up, the cost to manufacture those items goes up too – along with the cost to transport them.
While the bad news is that the price of plastic has gone up, the silver lining should be that the amount of plastic recycling increases, because it’s worth more. But it hasn’t. Plastic recycling is described as “lackluster” at best.
Here’s an article explaining why experts say the price of plastic isn’t going down anytime soon.
Why is Metal Outdoor Furniture So Expensive?
The most common metals used in patio furniture are aluminum and steel. Both metals are global commodities. That means that metal prices go up and go down, depending on world supply, demand and how the traders are feeling about risk.
Steel has always been a hot commodity. Since 2020, however, demand has increased by record amounts. But while demand has increased (driven by construction, car, and appliance manufacturers), production has decreased, creating a backlog.
The US Steel industry predicts that prices will stay high throughout 2022 and into 2023 (and for years beyond), when the backlog may get sorted out.
Aluminum is used not only in patio furniture, beer cans and food wrap – it is used in semiconductors, cell phones, wind and solar generators. Car manufacturers use aluminum to produce lighter-weight car parts, for electric vehicles.
The price of aluminum has increased in the past two years thanks to an increase in the cost of energy and because of materials shortages. Many smelting plants are fueled with fossil fuels. When the cost of energy becomes too high, smelting plants cut back on production.
Shortages of alumina (China accounts for 57% of the global supply) and bauxite have also contributed to higher costs. These shortages are expected to persist through this year.
Why is Wood Patio Furniture So Expensive?
The price of lumber has always been volatile, but since the pandemic, lumber experts have used the words “unprecedented” and “historic” when describing prices. Current prices are three times more expensive than the average, pre-pandemic price. What gives?
Many industry experts say that the driving force of the historic high prices was the construction and renovation boom in 2020. At the beginning of the pandemic, many sawmills experienced labor shortages. So, they shut down or slowed down their mills.
About that same time, locked-down folks decided it was a great time to jump into those renovations they’d been dreaming of. And, thanks to super low mortgage interest rates, new home construction began booming.
When the sawmills finally jumped back into production, they found they had supply chain issues. Ports were jam-packed. Truckers were scarce – when they weren’t striking. There weren’t enough railcars to meet demand.
Today, lumber prices seem to be falling, and even lower ones may be in sight. To combat rising inflation, the Fed is raising interest rates.
This in turn slows the housing market, which slows the new home construction market. Many folks are back to work, so the renovation surge is slowing as well.
If you are in the market for wood furniture, be patient, lower prices may be coming.
Why is Concrete Patio Furniture So Expensive?
The price of concrete has been rising for years. In 2008, the National Ready Mix Concrete Association (NRMCA) reported that the price per yard of concrete was $75. Today, it is $125.
Cement has been in high demand since 2020, thanks to the huge demand for housing. The US needs much more cement than it can produce. In fact, the fastest growing source for cement is from Vietnam, Turkey and Mexico. Like so many other things, cement was hit with supply chain woes.
Then, plants suffered high energy costs and worker shortages. Cement trucks need licensed truck drivers, so they were impacted there as well.
Are lower cement prices on the horizon? Doesn’t look like it this year, not while the supply chain is still in recovery.
Here’s an excellent resource on construction material volatility in 2022.
Why Are Wicker Chairs & Patio Furniture So Expensive?
Natural wicker furniture is made by weaving materials like bamboo, willow reed or rattan. Although these pieces are lovely, they can’t live outside. Most wicker patio furniture is made of synthetic fibers.
Synthetic wicker is made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE). Like plastic, HDPE is a petroleum product. So, like plastic, as the price of oil goes up, so does the cost to make HDPE.
Add on higher energy costs, supply chain issues ( most HDPE is made in China), and crazy high demand, and you’ve got increased prices.
Why is Costco Patio Furniture So Expensive? (& Other Brands)
Costco sells patio furniture from several manufacturers, including their own (Agio International). While Costco has plenty of market power, they still suffer from supply chain slowdowns, demand increases and materials market forces.
Costco has never been the place to find cheap stuff. They pride themselves on having better than average goods and their prices reflect it. Sometimes, early in the season, you can find deals on their monthly member sales. At the end of the season, try negotiating for floor pieces.
Here’s our own blog on Costco patio furniture.
Why Are Patio Seat Cushions So Expensive?
Patio seat cushions, like the furniture frames, have to be extra tough to withstand the weather. Indoor cushions have to be durable, soft, colorful, hold their shape and be stylish.
Outdoor cushions have to do all that too, but in rain, snow, sand, salty sea air, hot temperatures, and blazing full sun. They also have to clean up well after ketchup spills, wine splashes and muddy dog snoozes.
Outdoor cushions and patio furniture have always been more expensive than their indoor cousins. But because of supply chain issues and the price of oil, outdoor cushions have become even more expensive.
Why Are Patio Furniture Fabrics So Expensive?
Most outdoor cushion fabric used today is made of polyester yarns coated in PVC or with Sunbrella fabric, which is a solution dyed acrylic. Polyester, PVC and acrylic are all petroleum products.
Then, there’s the stuffing. Outdoor cushions are typically stuffed with high-density polyurethane foam – also a petroleum product.
Today’s cost of patio furniture fabric is the result of supply chain issues and the global price of oil, which results in high energy costs to produce the fabric, high transportation costs and high ethylene prices.
Here is Take A Yard’s article on why patio furniture fabric is expensive.
Should You Invest in Patio Furniture? (What Should You Look for When Buying?)
As we’ll discuss later in this article, there’s perhaps never a ‘best’ time to invest in patio furniture. But if you need it – should you? Yes, you should.
Our patios are essentially another room in our homes. For those of us who love the outdoors, we may use our patio spaces more than our inside spaces. So, we need some outdoor furniture that will be comfortable, look good, and that will last.
Quality patio furniture should last for years because outdoor furniture manufacturers make their furniture and cushions from high-quality, durable, weather-resistant materials. Good quality furniture should last you at least five years – some will last over ten.
Before you begin shopping for outdoor furniture, here are some tips. Consider how much seating you actually need. Do you enjoy entertaining outside? Or have a large family?
Then, measure your space. Are the measurements similar to your living room? Family room? If so, then you’ll know how much furniture can fit onto your patio.
Or, use a free online planning app to help design the space. When you go to a store, take your tape measure with you and drag pieces around to see if they will fit in your space with plenty of room to walk around.
While you are at the store, make sure that all your pieces are comfortable. Sometimes, outdoor cushions can be a little too firm to lounge around in. If you have to buy online, check out the reviews from real people to make sure the set is comfy.
Because patios are usually visible from inside your home, most designers suggest that you stick with the same general style and color choices.
Think about your climate. If your climate is so severe that you’ll need to store your furniture in the garage, consider pieces that will break down or fold up. At a minimum, you may need to invest in furniture covers.
Finally, don’t buy the cheapest. If the cheapest isn’t within your budget, consider buying a used set. Sometimes you can find real deals on pre-owned patio furniture.
When all else fails, you can consider making your patio furniture yourself. Here’s a nice DIY video on how to make deep seating chairs, including the cushions, from scratch.
How Much Should You Spend on Outdoor Furniture?
Depending on the amount of furniture you are shopping for, expect to spend from $300 up to $10,000.
If you are looking for an acacia two chair, loveseat and coffee table conversation set, Amazon has one for around $500. At Target, you can get two mixed material patio chairs for $400.
Home Depot has a 9 piece HDPE wicker, which comes with two deep seating chairs, a full length sofa, two ottomans and a side table, for around $1700. For those of you who are shopping for wood, expect to spend more. A teak sofa runs around $4,000, while two teak deep seating chairs with ottomans can run up to $3,000.
What Time of Year is Patio Furniture Cheapest? (When is It on Sale?)
Be ready when big box stores (Home Depot, Costco and Lowe’s) start their annual patio furniture sales. Check them out for sales starting around the Fourth of July and into August.
Most big box stores don’t have website features that will alert you when a sale comes up, so you just have to check routinely and then go quickly.
In addition to end-of-season sales at the big box stores, look for sales on Amazon, Wayfair, Target, Overstock, Frontgate, Kohl’s, and Walmart.
Are Patio Furniture Prices Going Up?
We optimistically believe that supply chain problems will improve, commodity prices can’t go higher than they’ve been, inflation will slow, shipping costs will level out and the folks who went crazy for their homes back in 2020 bought all the patio furniture that they could possibly want (ie, demand will slow).
For those reasons, we believe that patio furniture prices won’t increase significantly. In fact, they may go down.
That’s us being optimistic. Here’s Wired on why the supply chain crisis is going to get worse.
Will Patio Furniture Prices Go Down?
Maybe, in 2023 and the years beyond. While many of the challenges that outdoor furniture manufacturers have faced in the past two years are easing, prices probably won’t see a substantial decline for a while. Most experts say high prices will last until 2023, when they will level out. So be patient.
Record-high Inflation has hit us all hard. In the US, the recent rise of interest rates will hopefully slow inflation and prevent a recession. If inflation slows or if we fall into a small recession, the cost of many consumer items and services may go down.
While you are waiting for patio furniture prices to fall, consider giving your old patio set some TLC, or find an OK used one on Facebook Marketplace. Then be ready in March or April, 2023, for patio furniture to hit the market.
Here’s an article by CNBC on how much inflation has hit everything you buy for your home.
Is Outdoor Furniture in Short Supply?
Unfortunately for the consumer, at the time of writing patio furniture is in short supply. If you haven’t found and bought your dream set yet, check the sales that are on now.
If you started out a little late in the game, and your new dream set is gone, don’t despair. There are other sources of patio furniture if you are willing to do some searching and maybe a little sanding.
These days, people are moving around. Often, in a move, bulky patio furniture is the first to be set aside. You may find some great deals on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and Nextdoor.
If your old set just needs some TLC, consider fixing it up. If you have aluminum furniture, check out a big box hardware store for their inspiring range of exterior, metal spray paints. If your set is wood, then consider renting a pressure washer – you’ll be amazed at the improvement. Or, invest in some sandpaper and sealant.
If the squirrels eviscerated your cushions – and you own a sewing machine – consider making some new ones. Invest in some outdoor cushion fabric, zippers or buttons and sealant spray.
Are Patio Furniture Prices Negotiable?
In response to increased demand and decreased supply, retailers have jacked up prices because, frankly – they can. That’s the bad news. The good news is that increased markups can mean that retailers are open to haggling.
The average retail markup for patio furniture is between 200 and 400%. Contrast that number with the average retail markup of 100%, or the average jewelry markup at 300%.
Thanks to the giant markup on patio furniture, a surprising number of retailers will negotiate prices. Most salespeople will allow for a 10% discount or a flat $50 off without much persuasion. The higher the price tag, the better chance you have of getting some bucks knocked off.
Big box stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Costco will discount – if you know the tricks.
If you are looking to outfit your entire patio, consider bundling items and then approach a salesperson for a bundle discount. Looking for a patio set but think the solar lights are adorable? Bundle them in. Ditto the umbrella and outdoor rug.
Most retailers will price match, so do your research before you get to the store. Have plenty of competitor’s sales prices saved out on your phone. Sometimes sales managers are more motivated to move stock at the end of the month, so shop then.
Check carefully for flaws, scratches and dents. Seek out merchandise in damaged boxes. Ask whether you can buy a floor model for a discount or if they have any returns or “open box” items hidden in the back. If your item is out of stock, ask a salesperson if they will discount the slightly more expensive model that is in stock.
Finally, don’t forget your mother’s advice: honey will catch more flies than vinegar. Be polite and friendly – being a salesperson can be a thankless job.
For many local and global economic reasons, patio furniture has become expensive in recent years – and may remain so for the foreseeable future.
However, if you need patio furniture and can afford it – then it’s never been more important to do your research, read online reviews – and check the quality of what you’re buying first.
If you’re making such a sizeable investment then you need to be sure that your outdoor furniture is quality made by a reputable company – as we can’t afford to make mistakes and go for a cheaper option that just isn’t durable enough or up to the job.
That all said, there’s nothing better than entertaining family and friends outside on the patio, so if you go into your purchase of outdoor furniture with your eyes open – you should be able to enjoy it for years to come, no matter where prices go. 🙂